Today, we’re delighted to welcome Christopher Adams and Brad Baker from Rochen.com, to the Alledia interview hotseat(s).
Chris is the founder and CEO of Rochen. Brad is a member of Rochen’s management team as well as being the Joomla Sites & Infrastructure Coordinator and serving as the Joomla.org Forum Admin.
Rochen host the main Joomla! website at www.joomla.org.
1) Hi Chris and Brad. Could you tell us a little about yourselves? What are your backgrounds and what are your current day jobs?
Chris: My background has always been in IT and business. I was originally involved with designing websites several years ago but didn’t quite have the creative flair to compete with some the great designers around today, although perhaps that would all change now thanks to Joomla! During my time designing websites I became increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t find a reliable hosting provider that offered private label reseller services for web designers and developers so I went and did it myself. Rochen was born and several years later we are still here and going from strength to strength.
Brad: Born and raised in South Africa, now living at Australia’s most easterly point, Byron Bay, I’ve grown up with IT but particularly since 1999 I’ve been working online. I started off doing small websites in html etc, as well as some network/security consulting. As things progressed, I came across Rochen, was a client in the early days, and since 2003 I’ve worked fulltime for Rochen. I also keep my finger in a few other ventures, including consulting for a few businesses.
2) Brad – You’ve became involved with Mambo/Joomla since its early days. How did your involvement begin and how did you end up working with the core?
Brad: Now this is an interesting story. I came across Mambo in 2003 while looking for an easy to use website system for my clients. However the user support left a lot to be desired. After helping out on the Mambo forum, and ‘being noticed’ I was invited to help out as the forum admin in 2004. Since them, as the need for a proper Sites and Infrastructure team emerged, I naturally moved to expand my duties to that area as well. Once moving to Joomla this has only increased. Currently Tonie and I care for the largest Working Group, which includes all the moderators, as well as babysitting all the sites/infrastructure that Joomla relies upon.
3) How did Rochen get its start? You seem to have developed a very diverse team with people all over the world…
Chris: You may have heard me say this before but our number one asset is our people and that’s really what got us off the ground without a doubt. Having a dedicated group of people committed to your goal is more important than you can imagine when building a business and especially one in a competitive service sector like the web hosting industry. It gives me great pleasure to see customers who started off hosting with us several years ago with a basic reseller or shared hosting plan who have now progressed up to having multiple managed servers with us and knowing that our team has helped in a small way to get their business to that level. I also get a great deal of pleasure out of being able to push our resources behind very worthwhile projects like Joomla who deserve all the support they can get.
Brad: Having staff in different locations around the world, as well as our fanatical customer support goals, enables us to provide the kind of service and environment that our customers are looking for. We go above and beyond in an effort to exceed peoples expectations (we hope).
4) Rochen hosts the Joomla.org website. What kind of resources does the site consume now that its amongst the most popular on the web?
Chris: Brad is our resident Joomla expert so I will let him address this one in more detail. The underlying Joomla infrastructure setup now consists of four very powerful Rochen Managed Servers in a clustered configuration though with more on the way soon!
Brad: Tonie recently blogged about this here. Some interesting facts though. Apart from Joomla.org, our 2 most popular websites are our Extensions Directory as well as our Community Forum. Somewhere between 4 and 5 Tb of data is transferred each month from all our sites. Our sites run stock standard Joomla installs with SEF (core) enabled. We utilize a few components, mostly open source.
5) What are the most common security problems you come across with people’s Joomla set-ups?
Chris: I am glad you asked this one. The number one problem we come across is with people not keeping components that they install under Joomla properly updated with the latest version from the component developers. We see this problem on almost a weekly basis. A customer may have their core Joomla install fully patched and updated with the latest stable release but they have a component installed under that Joomla core which is not secure and then their entire site ends up being hacked as a result. I would encourage people to subscribe to the “Security Announcements” section at the official Joomla Forum and also to subscribe to any security mailing lists the component developers may provide. If a developer doesn’t provide such a service then closely monitor their website for updates etc. Bottom line is – you need to keep your component installs fully updated as well as the Joomla core install itself.
Brad: I can’t put it any better.. sadly, because Joomla is so easy to use, that many people conclude that once installed, there is nothing more they need to do as a webmaster.
6) Rochen seems to be building a large part of it business by catering to the Open Source Community? Is this as large a part of your business as it appears? Do you have any statistics about the most popular scripts hosted on your servers?
Chris: Although open source is not the largest part of our business it is most certainly a rapidly growing area and something I would like to see us try and develop further over the next few years. I think projects like Joomla have proven that open source can provide viable solutions for business users where a few years ago companies would shrug their shoulders and opt for a very expensive commercial solution. I am all for seeing open source growing and a big part of that is down to the communities built around these projects – just look at the Joomla Forum for a perfect example! We don’t maintain any stats for installed scripts but I think it is fair to say that if Joomla is not number one then it is pretty near the top.
Brad: We have plenty of other open source/free scripts being used by our clients. Simple Machines Forum (SMF) for example, is one of the most popular forums that many of our customers use.
7) Do you have any new projects or plans in 2007 we should be looking out for?
Chris: Last year we began making revolutionary improvements in our hosting infrastructure and you are going to see that continue through 2007. I can’t give too much away but you are going to see us introduce several enterprise level features as standard with all of our hosting plans. For starters, we will be deploying Mail Foundry Hardware Appliances to sit in front of our servers which will really take SPAM filtering to a whole new level for our customers. Secondly, we are going to be deploying a large array of Network Access Storage (NAS) servers to provide an enterprise class backup solution which will allow customers to instantly role their account or individual files back to any previous seed ranging from one hour to a month old. Both of these services are really unheard of in the shared hosting arena at the moment. Our support team will of course continue to be strengthened with more certified engineers being added. As for the rest you will need to wait for the official press releases!
Brad: There’s always plenty of activity and planning going on behind the scenes, but as Chris says, you’ll just have to wait for the press releases.